Emma Thompson Gushes Over Working With Finnish Crew on ‘The Fisherwoman’: ‘They Cared for Us, and They Showed Us Where the Best Bars Were’


Emma Thompson is Team Finland all the way and she wants you to know it. In an emotional letter shared with local newspaper Helsingin Sanomat, the actor detailed her experience working on Brian Kirk’s upcoming action thriller “The Fisherwoman.” Set in Minnesota, the film will see two-time Oscar winner as a widow who, while trapped in a blizzard, interrupts the kidnapping of a teenager.

“They had no snow [in Minnesota] owing to the changing climate, [so] the decision was taken to shoot all the exteriors in Finland. I had no idea how lucky I was but upon arrival in Koli, greeted by the piney, snow-laden sentinels that guard that magical hillside, I started to sense what a huge privilege and adventure this was to become,” she wrote.

The shoot wasn’t easy, admitted Thompson, who “was often quite scared and often doubted [her] capacity to do the work.” She also executive produces the film.

“What supported me at all times was the extraordinary nature of the environment and the people. From the moment I landed, I was met with kindness and warmth, with deep hospitality and humor by people who made my stay in Koli feel more and more like home.”

She praised the Finnish crew, who “seemed to be peculiarly well suited to film work” – “They were calm. They were confident. They worked incredibly hard and without complaint, no matter how insane the hours or the weather” – singling out the so-called “Snow Team.”

“The weather changed, as it always does and when the lake became wet, the snow team dragged sled after sled of fresh snow to cover over the thaw and maintain the continuity. If the weather was wet, they swept the watery sludge off the surfaces and replaced it with dry snow. If the weather was too snowy, they shoveled ton after ton of snow away from the shooting area. They were a great source of comfort and strength to us all, I think,” she added.

“All the Finns on our crew were admirable in different ways – our transport crew were amazing – driving on roads that ranged from deeply snowy to terrifyingly icy, to sludge-covered, even to muddy when the thaw went on for more than a day. They cared for us, they kept us safe, and they showed us where the best bars were, which was perhaps the most essential thing of all.”

She also recalled filming a fight sequence on a frozen lake. “It didn’t matter that I was cold and had pulled every muscle in my body (a daily reminder not to start your action movie career at the age of 64). The beauty sustained me, got me through, was the source of everything, somehow. What I am trying to say – perhaps clumsily because I am still in the middle of the thing and not quite myself – is that shooting in Finland is more than the sum of its parts, its parts being ineffable, and its people being constitutionally remarkably suited to the demands of film.”

“I would give anything to get the chance to work here again and therefore thank everyone who is working so hard to keep the AV incentive alive and kicking,” she said.

As previously reported by Variety, last year, the Finnish industry appealed to the government to protect film and TV production incentives.

“All these years when we had the incentives, we had opposition in the Ministry of Economic Affairs and Employment. These officials just didn’t like the idea. They argue these cuts are necessary, because the state ‘loans’ too much money in general. But our support and incentives actually bring in money,” noted Finnish Film Foundation CEO Lasse Saarinen.

It seems that now, the country has gained a powerful supporter. “I would encourage colleagues in my industry with all my heart to locate productions here – if you need dramatic landscape, it is here, if you need brave-hearted, highly sensitive and indomitable crew people, they are here, if you need comfort and a homely life, it is here,” added the actor.

“I will always be grateful for my time in Finland – I write this on my last day, which I am lucky enough to be spending with friends who have a smoke sauna and an ice-hole. A final blessing from the country that I have learned to love so much and which I will miss with every fiber of my being.”

This post was originally published on Variety

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